ABSTRACT

Studies suggest that nanometer-scale pores exist in organic matter as a result of thermal decomposition of kerogen. Depending on the host rock lithology, organic pores could be the primary storage for hydrocarbon accumulation in unconventional petroleum plays. Although various methods are publicly available, estimation of organic porosity remains a challenge because the procedures involve certain simplification or some implicit assumptions on the calculation of initial total organic carbon (TOC). In this study, we propose a revised method to address some of these issues. A model of estimating hydrocarbon expulsion efficiency is developed and incorporated into the calculation of initial TOC, thus producing an estimate of organic porosity with an improved mass balance. The method has been tested and compared with estimates using other methods based on a Rock-Eval data set in the literature. An application of the method to a large data set from the Upper Devonian Duvernay Formation petroleum system in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin reveals that the modification has a significant effect on the estimated organic porosity. This study also indicates that organic porosity in the Duvernay Formation ranges greatly from none in immature intervals to >6% in highly mature and organic-rich shale intervals. Scanning electron microscope images of immature and mature organic-rich shale samples of the Duvernay Formation show a progressive increase in organic porosity with increasing thermal maturity, supporting the proposed model calculation. The presence of a large volume of organic porosity in mature shale intervals suggests a significant amount of hydrocarbon may be stored in the organic nanopores in the Duvernay Formation.

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